Like many other African countries, the system of traditional leadership and chieftainship in
Lesotho is strongly embraced and deeply embedded. Under customary law chiefs have been
regarded as and served as governors of their societies with power over different aspects of life.
However the traditional leadership systems have been and continue to be predominantly male.
The study therefore will examine the institution of chieftainship in Lesotho under both the
Constitution and customary and; how this has led to gender inequality and infringement of
international human rights law. Under customary law which is recognized by common law
women, daughters in particular are denied the right to succeed to chieftainship on the basis of
gender and sex. As a result, this has led to gender inequality and discrimination against women.
Although the kingdom of Lesotho practices a dual system, obligating itself to incorporate
international law into domestic law, it has been evident that both the constitution and customary
law are inconsistent with international law particularly Article 2 of the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which aims to protect and promote
human rights; In this case women s rights. Although chieftainship perceived to be important and
relevant, it has been argued that the institution of traditional leadership no longer has a place in
the modern world therefore should be abolished.
The study further examines some similar cases and judicial responses as well as the application
of international law in addressing the issue of gender inequality that results from customary law.
I also question under what or which circumstances shall customary law take precedence over
international law and when should international law precede over customary/ domestic law. I
therefore argue and recommend for the reformation and amendment of Chieftainship Act as well
as the Constitution of Lesotho which continues to advocate for gender inequality based on
cultural practices and customary law and lastly, the adoption of positive practices from the other
African states the paper look at.
Mini-Dissertation (MPhil)--University of Pretoria, 2015.